Scholars and Athletes 2013: Classes C, D

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 5, 2013

Eleven student-athletes from Michigan High School Athletic Association Class C and D member schools have been selected to receive scholarships through its Scholar-Athlete Award program.

Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 24th year of sponsoring the award, will give a $1,000 college scholarship to 32 individuals who represent their member school in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament. The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; also, there are two at-large honorees which can come from any classification.

Each of the scholarship recipients will be honored at halftime ceremonies of the Class C Boys Basketball Final game March 23 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.  Commemorative medallions will be given to other finalists in recognition of their accomplishments.

The Class C Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Kylei Ratkowski, Bronson; Grace Smith, Kalamazoo Hackett; Nicole Winter, Watervliet; Jesse Anderson, Union City; Ashwin Fujii, Ann Arbor Greenhills; Connor Lockman, Royal Oak Shrine.

The Class D Scholar-Athlete Award scholarship recipients are:  Elyse Kathleen Lisznyai, Hillsdale Academy; Elena Victoria Luce, Mason County Eastern; Charles Barchett, Watervliet Grace Christian; Chip A. Blood, Hillsdale Academy; Francisco Jay Noyola, Lansing Christian.

Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class C Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay is also included:

Kylei Ratkowski, Bronson. Three-time letterwinner in volleyball and basketball, serving as team captain in both sports.  Also won a letter in track and field.  Was all-conference and all-area in volleyball as a senior, and also a third-team all-state selection.  Was Homecoming Queen in 2012.  Class treasurer throughout high school and served for four years on student council, the last two years as vice president.  Active in National Honor Society, Varsity Club and 4-H; and served as an officer in all three groups.  Volunteers to instruct and officiate in youth girls volleyball and basketball and to work with a local food pantry and visit shut-ins.  Plans medical studies at the University of Notre Dame or Michigan State University.

Essay Quote: “Athletics is about more than winning, it is about creating winners with the right attitude.  It is about developing athletes that genuinely care about their opponents and do the right thing when put to the test.  Sportsmanship is essential to educational athletics and we as athletes and fan of athletics need to do all we can to insure sportsmanship remains a significant part of every game.”

 

Grace Smith, Kalamazoo Hackett. Will earn her fourth varsity letter in soccer this spring, and also won three varsity letters in basketball.  Was captain of basketball team this year, and most valuable of soccer team last spring.  An Academic All-State honoree twice in both sports.  Has also won all-district and all-league awards twice in soccer.  Three-year member of National Honor Society, Student Athletic Advisory Board and Quiz Bowl team at her school.   Was president of Student Athletic Advisory Board as a Senior, and Quiz Bowl team was a state finalist last year.  Editor of student newspaper and Synthesis Literary Magazine.  Has volunteered with Salvation Army, Vacation Bible School and Habitat for Humanity.  Plans biology or pre-medical studies in college.

 

Essay Quote: “We both desperately wanted to win, but we saw the other person was more important than the outcome of the game.  We did whatever we could to help our team win, but we did not do it out of hatred for our opponent.  When the game was over, our friendship and mutual respect was still intact.”

Nicole Winter, Watervliet. Will earn 15 varsity letters in four different sports – four each in volleyball, basketball and softball; and three in track and field.  A team captain and most valuable player in volleyball and basketball; and has earned all-conference honors in all four sports.  Will finish basketball career as school record holder in assists and three-point field goals, and will likely top the 1,000-point mark in scoring.  Also won Academic All-State award as a junior in basketball.  President of school’s Student Council and vice president of the National Honor Society, and was also a class officer three times.  Editor of school yearbook and member of newspaper staff; won an award for outstanding achieve as editor of the press association at Girls State.  Will attend either Calvin College or Hope College to study communications, English or history.

Essay Quote: “No one will win every game; therefore, it is critical to learn how to conduct yourself after wins and losses.  Losing is one of the toughest events to go through, but you learn more from one loss than from one hundred wins.”

Jesse Anderson, Union City. A four-year performer in both cross country and track and field.  Helped track team to last three Big Eight Conference titles, and second place finishes at MHSAA Finals.  Won all-conference honors as part of two relay teams and in two individual events.  Was most valuable on 2012 cross country team.  President of his class for three consecutive years, and vice president of National Honor Society.  Active as a volunteer with local Red Cross and March of Dimes, and a member of his church youth group and 4-H.  Served as editor of school yearbook.  Won DAR Good Citizen Award and was twice selected as school Student of the Month.  Plans medical studies at Grand Valley State University.

Essay Quote: “To truly know what sportsmanship is, you must be put in situations where being a good sportsman is not the easiest thing to do and making, at times, the unpopular choice to do what is right instead of what is easy.”

Ashwin Fujii, Ann Arbor Greenhills. A team captain in cross country and track and field, winning four varsity letters in both sports.  Won All-State honors in cross country as a Junior, and as also an Academic All-State honoree.  League champion in 3,200-meter run in track.  Also a three-time letterwinner in swimming, where he holds several school records.  On the Student Council for four years, elected president as a Senior.  Was on the Chess Team and part of the Green Initiative Group for two years.  Served as a volunteer swimming coach for kids recovering from cancer therapy.  A National Merit Scholar Semifinalists, and a two-time Greenhills School Academic Scholar honoree.  Will attend the University of Michigan and study engineering.

Essay Quote: “Just as competing with sportsmanship will make you better, competing without it will do nothing but make you dirtier and more disrespectful.  Competitors lacking sportsmanship might win at first, but they won’t improve.” 

Connor Lockman, Royal Oak Shrine. Will earn his fourth letter in track and field this Spring to go with four letters in soccer and one letter in cross country.  Has served as a team captain in cross country and track and field.  An all-league performer in all three sports, was league 800-meter champion the past two years.  Has participated in the MHSAA Finals in both cross country and track.  Was academic all-state and track team most valuable in 2012.  Other school activity involvement includes National Honor Society, Ski Club, Backstage Tech Crew, the Winners Circle leadership forum, and a leader in Kairos.  Has also been a youth soccer coach and referee.  Will attend Michigan State University to study pre-law.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship is turning for the finish line with one hundred meters left and not giving up.  Running toward the pain because you are the anchor of your 3,200-meter relay.  Second place would not matter that much for you because you have three more opportunities at a championship.  Your teammates may not though.  You run towards the pain for your teammates and that is true sportsmanship.” 

Other Class C girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were:  Alyssa R. Briolat, Ubly; Kara Craig, Schoolcraft; Lindsey Dopheide, Lawton; Margaret Elizabeth Durbin, Boyne City; Macayla Geiner, Hart; Natalie Perry, Sand Creek; Theresa Pickell, Reese; Abigail Radomsky, Kalamazoo Hackett; and Faith Schroeder, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary.

Other Class C boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Brian Christopher Aldrich, Kalamazoo Hackett; Kenner Broullire, Manistique; Jesse Corbat, Breckenridge; Parker Eldred, Blanchard Montabella; Zachary A. Kerr, Saugatuck; Mike O'Brien, Maple City-Glen Lake; Elliott Rains, Sand Creek; Quinton Rice, Marcellus; and Luke Schaffner, Clinton.

Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class D Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay is also included:
 
Elyse Kathleen Lisznyai, Hillsdale Academy. Will earn 16 varsity letters in high school career in basketball, cross country, golf and track.  Began high school competition in eighth grade because of school’s small enrollment, and won all-state honors in cross country and track in 2008-09.  Ran leg of winning 3,200-relay at MHSAA L.P. Division 4 Track & Field Finals in 2010, was part of two medaling relays in 2012.  Played in Division 4 Golf Finals five straight years, and finished sixth individually in 2012.  Captained golf and track teams.  Participated throughout high school in 4-H, Student Council, Drama Club, Chamber Choir and in church youth group.  Student Council and National Honor Society officer.  Plans to study pre-law at the University of Michigan.

Essay Quote: “As an athlete in the MHSAA, I have dedicated myself to a level of integrity and honesty that manifests itself in my behavior on the field and in the classroom.  While I made this commitment as a sportsman, it had taken roots much deeper than in the athletic arena, before I was even old enough to participate in sports.  This devotion to the protection of that which is true, good, and beautiful was taught to me as a child by my parents, solidified as a student at Hillsdale Academy, and perpetuated always by a firm belief in God.”

Elena Victoria Luce, Mason County Eastern. Lettered in five sports – basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer and cross country – earning 17 letters.  Captained basketball, soccer and volleyball squads; and was all conference in those sports, as well as softball.  Academic all-state selection in basketball, and winner of 2012 BCAM Three-Point Shooter’s Challenge at MHSAA Basketball Finals.  Class president through middle school and high school.  Active in Varsity Club, National Honor Society, Quiz Bowl and yearbook editor.  Has been a religious education at her church, and volunteered with the Special Olympics and AYSO Soccer.  She plans to pursue a degree in accounting or business in college.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship allows our athletic activities to maintain a competitive level, yet, we are still able to remain respectful to our opponents, and we can maintain our dignity.  Nobody wants to feel degraded or put down in anything they do, and sports are supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  Sportsmanship is important because it allows all of these things to be possible, and displaying these characteristics allows teams and athletics to be successful in anything they do.”

Charles Barchett, Watervliet Grace Christian. Team captain in all three of his sports – baseball, basketball and soccer.  All-conference performer in baseball and soccer.  Won team most valuable honors in soccer as a goalie and set school single season record for saves in 2012.  Academic all-state honoree in baseball.  Participated in 4-H and Buddies In Christ throughout high school.  Also took part in drama, National Honor Society and Student Council.  Volunteers with the Berrien County Youth Fair, his school cafeteria and as statistician for boys basketball team.  Plans to attend Bradley University.

Essay Quote: “Actions speak louder than words, and my actions on the field or court exemplify my personal leadership and integrity.  In my mind, that leaves me with two options:  play with sportsmanship or don’t play at all.”

Chip A. Blood, Hillsdale Academy. Played varsity basketball, golf and soccer throughout high school and lettered in basketball and golf as eighth grader due to school’s small enrollment, earning 14 letters.  Team captain, leading scorer and all-conference in all three sports.  Has played in MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals in each of the past four years, placing third in 2010 and eighth in 2012.   Four-year participant in Knights of Columbus Squires, Student Council, Drama Club and as volunteer with  Salvation Army.  Played French Horn in school band, participated in National Honor Society and various church activities.  Will study economics at the University of Notre Dame.

Essay Quote: “In my participation in athletics, one trait has always been deemed most valuable in a competitor:  sportsmanship.  Every organization seems to champion this virtue.  However, it begs the question:  what defines sportsmanship, and why does it matter…four years of high school have answered the question for me, and I have had the pleasure of seeing true sportsmanship exemplified.”

Francisco Jay Noyola, Lansing Christian. Won all-state honors in soccer, and also participated in basketball and golf.  Team captain in golf and soccer, and won all-conference awards in both.  Has made mission trips to Guatemala the past three years and Mexico this year with schoolmates, helping build soccer fields.  Member of National Honor Society, Sexually Mature Aware Responsible Team (SMART),  Science Olympiad, and is active with church youth group.   Plans to attend Hope College and study engineering.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship affects the game and the team.  Knowing how to handle my emotions has made me a better sport, and having teammates who are good sports makes the game more fun.  Sportsmanship is an essential part of educational athletics because it makes sports worth playing.

Other Class D girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were:  Anna Marie Couture, Posen; Sarah Cullip, St. Ignace; Erica LeClaire, Dollar Bay; Christina Smith, Gaylord St. Mary; Kari L. Steenwyk, Ellsworth; and Krysta M. VanDamme, Rock-Mid Peninsula.

Other Class D boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were:  Brett Branstrom, Rock-Mid Peninsula; Matthew R. Katz, Tekonsha; Alexander G. Knight, Lake Linden-Hubbell; Joseph Samuel Paquette, Munising; and Hunter Selby, Genesee Christian.

Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average, and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics. 

The Class B scholarship award recipients will be announced on February 12, and the Class A honorees will be announced on February 19. 

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2024 Scholar-Athlete Award Recipients Announced in Class A

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 20, 2024

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has selected 13 student-athletes from Class A member schools to receive scholarships through the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program. 

Farm Bureau Insurance logoFarm Bureau Insurance, in its 35th year of sponsoring the award, will give $2,000 college scholarships to 32 individuals who represent their member schools in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament. The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; also, there are two at-large honorees who can come from any classification.

Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

The 32 scholarship recipients will be recognized March 16 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.

The Class A Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are Bella Adams, Battle Creek Lakeview; Aya Moughni, Dearborn; Arianna Pate, Gibraltar Carlson; Cecilia Ruchti, St. Joseph; Lily Sackrider, St. Johns; Katherine Slazinski, Birmingham Seaholm; Willem DeGood, Traverse City West; Abrar Hossen, Portage Central; Anirudh Krishnan, Plymouth; AJ Martel, Mason; Jaden Reji, Livonia Churchill; Charlie Seufert, East Grand Rapids; and Logan Yu, Midland Dow.

Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class A Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay also is included:

Bella Adams headshotBella Adams, Battle Creek Lakeview
Played three seasons of varsity volleyball and is competing in fourth of track & field this spring. Helped volleyball team to two District championships and earned academic all-state in that sport three times. Earned all-league and all-region in track and also earned academic all-state three times in that sport. Served as captain of both teams. Participating in fourth year of student government and serving as class vice president. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and has attended Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center throughout high school. Participated in multiple initiatives to promote STEM education including Phoenix Gives Back as a junior, Kellanova’s high school program as a senior and the BCAMSC’s Kindness Club the last two years. Participated in church’s Battle Creek Mission Trip throughout high school. Serving on staff of school’s TV channel for first time as senior and coached elementary and middle school volleyball summer camps the last two years. Is undecided where she will attend college, but intends to study biology.

Essay Quote: “The single most important component of sportsmanship, and even in the world, is compassion. Being compassionate is not just how you treat your closest friends, but treating everybody as a friend. Compassion is what helps the lonely, hurt teenage girl feel secure, the timid new basketball player feel at home. All successful student-athletes carry the foundation of compassion through sportsmanship.”

Aya Moughni headshotAya Moughni, Dearborn
Ran three seasons of cross country and played two of varsity volleyball, will play her second of varsity soccer and compete in fourth of track & field this spring, and also played varsity basketball as a sophomore. Earned league multi-sport recognition and scholar-athlete honors multiple years. Served as captain for soccer, basketball and volleyball junior varsity teams and substitute captain for cross country and track & field varsities. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and third on Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, and served as class vice president as sophomore. Founded Right to Play Club and serves as president, and also serves as president of Social Justice Club and treasurer of Gay-Straight Alliance. Served as Key Club vice president and director of outreach for Dearborn Youth Affairs Commission. Participating in first year of Business Professionals of America and as secretary, and qualified for state competition in multiple contests. Earned profile in courage award and multiple honors for voter registration. Is undecided where she will attend college but intends to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.

Essay Quote: “In this vast arena of athletic education, sportsmanship stands as the unsung anthem for the underdog, the celebration of diversity, and the unyielding belief that fair play is the ultimate victory. It transforms the field into a space where young minds not only refine their physical abilities but also nurture the values that will shape them as future leaders, team players, and contributors to society.”

Arianna Pate headshotArianna Pate, Gibraltar Carlson
Ran four seasons of cross country, playing third season of varsity basketball and will compete in fourth season of track & field this spring. Earned all-league honors in cross country and track and all-area honorable mention in basketball, and helped basketball team to league championship as a sophomore. Serving as basketball team captain this season. Earned AP Scholar Award and honors from National African American Recognition Program and National Hispanic Recognition Program. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and as chapter president after serving as vice president as a junior. Serving fourth year on student council and as executive board secretary for second year after two years as class treasurer. Participating in fourth years of Earth Club and Inclusivity Club, second as part of Marauder Captains and third on Student Empowerment Team. Volunteered for three years as part of Red Cross blood drive. Will attend University of Michigan and study nursing.

Essay Quote: “It’s not just about helping someone up off of the ground, or saying “good game” in the handshake line after a competition. It’s about separating yourself from aggressive competition and instead showing empathy and care towards your fellow athletes whom you are lucky enough to share a playing field with. Especially in the realm of high school athletics, sportsmanship is one of the most important qualities that an athlete can have.”

Cecilia Ruchti headshotCecilia Ruchti, St. Joseph
Ran four years of cross country and will play her fourth season of varsity tennis this spring. Earned all-state in tennis and reached No. 1 doubles semifinals at 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals as team tied for sixth place. Earned all-league and all-region in cross country and helped that team to MHSAA Finals three times, also earning academic all-state in that sport. Served as captain of both teams multiple seasons. Participating in fourth year of student senate and as president, and also in fourth year as part of student foundation and as vice president. Serving as assistant teacher in third year of AP leadership course and also in third years as National Honor Society and writing center tutor. Served as tennis coach and camp instructor throughout high school and as athletic department intern as a senior. Is undecided where she will attend college, but intends to study marketing and design.

Essay Quote: “Walking away from Cross Country and Tennis State Finals, a lot of gratitude has washed over me. It’s been incredible to watch both my teammates and former teammates succeed. The time I shared with high-performing athletes and leaders influenced a lot of growth. I've observed extraordinary sportsmanship around me. I'm lucky to have coaches who have great integrity and preach hard work ethic. High school sports taught effective sportsmanship – on and off the course and court.”

Lily Sackrider headshotLily Sackrider, St. Johns
Ran four seasons of cross country, is playing her third season of varsity basketball and will compete in her fourth season of track & field in the spring. Earned all-conference and academic all-state in cross country helping that team to one league and two Regional titles. Earned all-state as part of a track relay as a junior. Served as captain of all three teams. Carries 4.0 grade-point average. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and as chapter co-president, and has participated on Youth Action Committee throughout high school and Tri-County Youth Advisory Council the last two years and served as officer for both. Also has served on school’s athletic student leadership team three years. Played in school marching band throughout high school and as part of drum line the last three years, as section leader of the latter. Serves as voting member on St. Johns Area Community Fund Board. Participated three years with school’s Peer Assisted PALS and two with Compassion Club. Will attend Hope College or University of Michigan and study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Therein lies the real value in educational athletics; the civic education it provides. The totality of sportsmanship prepares student athletes to be the absolute best people we can be when venturing into adult life. … Once we have mastered sportsmanship, we become capable of taking our acquired traits of compromise, accountability and kindness and weaving them into everyday life.”

Katherine Slazinski headshotKatherine Slazinski, Birmingham Seaholm
Played two seasons of golf including on varsity this past fall, and will play fourth season of varsity tennis in the spring; also played two seasons of junior varsity volleyball. Earned all-state in tennis the last two seasons in helping team to 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 title and 2022 runner-up finish, winning No. 2 doubles flight as a junior. Served as tennis team captain. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction and National Merit Scholarship Commended Student recognition. Participating in third year of DECA, qualifying twice for state competition and serving as vice president of community service and social events the last two years. Participating in third year of National Honor Society and second of Spanish National Honor Society. Serving second year in multiple mentoring programs and second year as blood drive coordinator. Participated in YoungLife and as tennis coach and tournament assistant director throughout high school, and also is serving as marketing intern this year for Birmingham Education Foundation.

Essay Quote: “A major part of sportsmanship is putting the feelings of teammates or competitors before your own emotions. At times, this requires showing excitement for your teammates and all their hard work paying off, even when you are at your lowest points. At other times, this requires showing empathy to an opponent even when your first reaction is to celebrate your victory.”

Willem DeGood headshotWillem DeGood, Traverse City West
Ran four seasons of cross country and will participate in fourth of track & field this spring; also competed on school’s Nordic/cross country skiing team all four years. Earned all-league and all-region in cross country and qualified for MHSAA Finals all four seasons. Competed at MHSAA Finals in track first three seasons and helped that team to three Regional titles. Earned academic all-state two years. Served as co-captain of both cross country and track teams. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction honor and participating in second years of National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Played in school’s concert and marching bands throughout high school and as part of philharmonic orchestra as a senior. Served as section leader and principal player, earned first-division solo recognition and selected to perform at Michigan Music Conference. Participating in second years of school’s global studies and arts community groups, and also serves as a math tutor and track club volunteer. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to major in international studies.

Essay Quote: “When competing, even for different teams, we are all stronger when we respect each other as good sportsmen and lift each other up. On the start line of every race, I always wish the runners next to me good luck because I know how much it means to know the people you’re facing on the track want the best for you, too.”

Abrar Hossen headshotAbrar Hossen, Portage Central
Ran three seasons of varsity cross country and will compete in his fourth of track & field this spring. Earned all-league honors in both sports, qualified for MHSAA Finals in both and served as captain of both teams as well. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction honor and named National Merit Scholarship Commended Student. Participating in second year of DECA and earned state championship, and served as chapter’s public relations director. Participating in third year on Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center student senate, and participated in global battery solution research at Western Michigan University. Participating in second years of computer science club and Kids in Science club, as instructor for both to younger students in those topics, and has served as tutor throughout high school for students with learning disabilities. Founded school’s cultural dance group and serving as president of Health Occupations Students of America chapter. Is undecided where he will attend college but intends to study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Although my time with my teammates is nearing its end, the fact that any of them can come to me for support will never change. The act of running sparks conversations, new connections, and brings communities together. These are acts of sportsmanship that often go unnoticed. A team cannot be expected to respect other teams when they are not yet close enough to respect each other.”

Anirudh Krishnan headshotAnirudh Krishnan, Plymouth
Ran four years of varsity cross country and will compete in fourth of track & field this spring. Also trained in taekwondo during first three years of high school and participated in Unified Sports basketball as a junior. Earned all-state honors in both cross country and track and academic all-state for both sports as well. Holds school race records in both sports and served as team leader for both. Earned third-degree black belt in taekwondo and taught that martial art. Founded and serves as director of AK Friendship Circle nonprofit organization supporting young adults with disabilities, and earned Ted Lindsay Foundation Family Courage Award for contributions toward autism education. Served two years on student council and participated in University of Michigan’s Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity in Metropolitan Detroit. Will attend Johns Hopkins University and study applied mathematics and statistics.

Essay Quote: “In the journey to building good sportsmanship, coaches are key mentors. Sometimes in the heat of intense competition, winning seems to be the only thing that matters. However, having a coach who can provide a sense of balance and guide athletes to have a positive mindset and attitude is critical for educational athletics. In every sporting event, someone wins, and someone loses. Accepting victory with joy while not gloating over your opponents, and accepting defeat with grace while not being antagonistic to the winner reflects on the character of an athlete.”

AJ Martel headshotAJ Martel, Mason
Played four seasons of varsity football, wrestling for fourth season and competing in second of diving this winter, and will compete in third season of track & field this spring. Earned all-state in football multiple seasons and finished as school’s all-time leading rusher, and helped team to four league and three Regional titles and Division 3 runner-up finish this past fall. Helped wrestling team to Regional title this season for second time, earned all-league first three seasons and placed at Individual Finals as a freshman. Earned all-state in multiple events in track and won 300-meter hurdles at 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals, helping team to runner-up finish. Earned all-league in diving and helped team to league title in 2023. Earned academic all-state in wrestling and football and academic all-league in track and diving. Participating in third year of National Honor Society and serving as senior class officer. Served as volunteer flag football coach and official and youth wrestling tournament worker. Participated in LINK program as a junior and serves as head of school’s athletics social media. Will attend Hope College and intends to study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “I realized that every person on the field was just a high school student who wanted the chance to play football. I didn’t have to detest (our rivals) because they attended a different school. I could appreciate the moment to compete against them while remembering that good sportsmanship benefits both teams.”

Jaden Reji headshotJaden Reji, Livonia Churchill
Played three seasons of varsity soccer and playing third season of varsity basketball. Earned all-conference multiple seasons in soccer and captained that team, and earned academic all-state in basketball. Named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and AP Scholar with Distinction. Participating in third year of Spanish National Honor Society, as chapter president, and second year of Science National Honor Society, as vice president. Participating in third year of DECA, as chapter president, and was founding member of school’s chapter of Health Occupations Students of America and won a first place at HOSA International Leadership Conference. Participated in robotics throughout high school on team that twice qualified for world championships, and served as captain. Serving as Bible study leader for church youth group and as hospital volunteer and patient/family advisory council ambassador. Volunteered for school district’s summer Early Literacy Program. Participated in two years of debate and served as team secretary. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to study neuroscience on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship also requires humility and appreciation. I learned this from my experience in debate, where I present and clash with different opinions and perspectives. There is always something to learn from the other side, even if I disagree with them. I learned to acknowledge their strengths, address their arguments, and concede their points when warranted. I also learned to thank them for the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue and to improve my own skills.”

Charlie Seufert headshotCharlie Seufert, East Grand Rapids
Played three seasons of varsity golf, will play third season of varsity tennis this spring, and also played two seasons of subvarsity basketball. Earned all-state in doubles tennis, helping team to Regional championship and third-place Finals finish in the fall, and earned all-conference in golf as a junior. Served as captain of both teams. Participating in fourth year of Latin club, and as president, and serving third year on student council. A heart transplant recipient, serves as speaker and ambassador for American Heart Association. Participating in third year of school’s Leadership Youth Development group and as leader. Participated two years in We the People competition including on state championship team, and as coach, and two years on Model United Nations team. Volunteered and served as First Tee West Michigan lead coach, and participating in second year as elementary school mentor. Also serving as writer for school newspaper. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to pursue a career in public health.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship has always been important to be. As a golfer and tennis player, I have exhibited good sportsmanship on and off the course/court. However, it was not until I received my heart transplant did I truly understood the meaning of this word. … Persevering through these difficulties has forever changed the athlete that I am. I now understand that sportsmanship does not just mean treating opponents with respect, but also forming connections with others on and off the course.”

Logan Yu headshotLogan Yu, Midland Dow
Played four seasons of varsity tennis, earning all-state the last two and winning the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals title at No. 3 singles as senior in helping Dow win second-straight team championship. Earned academic all-state as senior and was part of four academic all-state teams. Served as team captain as senior. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and served as vice president. Participating in third year of DECA and twice qualified for state competition and last year for International Career Development Conference. Playing violin for second year as part of symphony & honors orchestra and qualified for the Michigan Music Conference as sophomore, and has played piano for more than 13 years qualifying for State Achievement Testing semifinals four times. Serving third year on Midland Youth Action Council and participating in second year of church youth group and as worship leader. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to study business analytics and information systems.

Essay Quote: “… As a freshman, I began looking up to one of the leading figures in my life, my coach, who displayed amazing acts of sportsmanship throughout our season. When we won, he celebrated privately with us. When we lost, he congratulated the other coach and pushed us to work harder. I began to see why he was such an effective coach and leader. … Now, I see every match as an opportunity to display sportsmanship, inspire others, and grow myself.”

Other Class A girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were Yan Yee Adler, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Sam M. Peot, East Grand Rapids; Julia Holt, Farmington Hills Mercy; Tori Briggs, Fowlerville; Cameron Herman, Hartland; Brooke Pedersen, Holland West Ottawa; Ella Chatfield, Jenison; Meghan Ford, Mason; Lauren VanSumeren, Midland Dow; Addison Raffle, Northville; Ella Boyd, Oxford; Abigail DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek; Anna Lassan, South Lyon East; Addison Booher, Traverse City Central; Ava King, Traverse City West; London Williams, Trenton; Sarah Fromm, Utica; and Ryah Dewey, Walled Lake Western.

Other Class A boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were Viraj Nautiyal, Birmingham Seaholm; Dylan Shoresh, Birmingham Seaholm; Charles Howell, Cadillac; Erik Giedeman, Dearborn; Joseph Stachelek, Detroit U-D Jesuit; Charlie Lentz, East Grand Rapids; Chris Piwowarczyk, Fenton; TJ Silvernale, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern; Jack Ryan, Grosse Pointe South; Connor Curtis, Livonia Stevenson; Jonathan Song, Midland Dow; Jaxson Whitaker, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer; Kyle Brown, Northville; Sean Wilson, Oxford; Andrew Miller, Saline; Jack Carlisle, Stevensville Lakeshore; and Vansh Jvalit Baxi, Troy Athens.

The Class C and D scholarship award recipients were announced Feb. 6, and the Class B honorees were announced Feb. 13.

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The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.